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tv   White House Chronicles  PBS  October 24, 2010 9:00am-9:30am EDT

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captioned by the national captioning institute grex hello, i'm llewellyn king. first, a few thoughts of my own. i'm fascinated by electricity. i will always be a proponent of electricity, probably because i grew up in africa, where we did not have a lot of that, frequently non, and life without it is very hard.
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life with it is a much better. because it is so useful, so much a part of our lives, we tend to forget how wonderful it is and how necessary it is to take actions to make sure we have enough now, and into the future. electricity changed everything for those lucky enough to have it. if you go to africa, or parts of asia, you will see those that do not have it. you will see a man walking together four days to make a fire to cook what, walking barefoot, collecting just a few pieces of wood for a fire. we took it for granted -- we take it for granted. look at this cellular phone, charged with electricity. every waking moment of our day is full of electricity --
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lights, heating, cooling. it has also changed the nature of the country, and other countries. great cities like miami, phoenix, houston, would not have the large populations they do without air conditioning for -- without air-conditioning. the woman's movement -- we would not have that enormous doubling of the talent pool when women came into the workforce because they could leave home, not having to do the treasury -- the drudgery. i think it is marvelous that we are any electrified nation, and that the advanced world is in electrified. it keeps on giving. it is nice to have it for your music, and things like that, and for television, and to not forget the computers.
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as you get old, it is much more valuable in keeping you warm, providing elevators and escalators. it has made old age a lot more bearable. this program will continue the discussion with one of the most important people in the generation and provision of electricity in this country. i will be right back. >> "white house chronicle" is produced in collaboration with whut, howard university television. now, your program host, nationally syndicated columnist llewellyn king, and co-host linda gasparello. captioned by the national captioning institute >> hello, again. thank you for coming along.
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here he is, donald brandt, welcome. he is the ceo of arizona public service, and his holding company pinnacle west capital corporation. as it sounds, you are in arizona. you must have some interest in solar power. >> we are. >> it is hot in phoenix. it is hot, and it is sunny. >> we thought we had gotten your weather here in washington. do you not have the largest industrial solar plant? >> we are in the process of building what will be the largest solar plant in the world. it will be 280 megalops. >> that is very big. >> how much land will it take? about three square miles.
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>> it is a huge electric farm. that is a lot. what do you do at night? >> the project is unique. it will soar -- it will store the solar heat for the night, using basically a battery that stores the energy in the heat. the heat will continue to produce electricity until a little after 11:00 in the evening. >> this is not a third, this is a direct heat system? >> it is using parabolic mirrors to focus the sun on a tube. >> that is certainly the largest installation. can we explain 280 megawatts? >> it could power 70,000 households in the desert. >> 365 days a year? >> yes.
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>> you do not have to compensate. >> that is correct. >> what are you doing to -- doing with wind? >> we have quite a bit of wind. most of our wind is located in mexico. we are in the process of a large wind project in northern arizona, just north of the flagstaff area. >> you also have the largest single killer -- largest single nuclear installation that is three separate plans. >> that is correct. >> that is a lot of power. >> it is. >> how does it interface with wind and solar? >> except for one we put new fuel in, it runs 24 hours a day.
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>> how long has it been running? >> the first units came along in 1986. the last in 1989. it was the less commercial nuclear plant built in the united states. >> any problems? >> we have had various issues, but it runs great today. we are in the process of re- licensing the plant. the new killer -- the new clear regulatory commission grants licenses for 30 years. they come to in the mid-2020 timeframe. >> your bets are well hedged. you have tremendous political support for alternative energy, and the traditional support for nuclear tends to be more on the conservative side, and the liberal side supporting alternatives. you have them both.
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>> yes. >> how do you deal with critics? >> i have been in the business for 30 years. every time the industry or the public has fallen in love with one technology against another, give it five or 10 years, and whenever they are in love with is out of fashion. we like to call it a diversified portfolio. the cost of fuels, environmental acceptability, public opinion, those will tend to change. >> what are your lessons? obviously, you are in arizona, so you have a special climate. what are your general lessons for the rest of the country that you have learned in your mix of fuels, etc? >> listen to your customers, what they want. renewables are very popular in
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arizona. we are seeing a number of industries locating in arizona to build solar components. a very large player, first solar, is headquartered in tempe, ariz., a suburb east of phoenix, arizona. it is very popular. also, nuclear. i think most arizonans very proud of the plant behind the grand canyon. >> i have a problem with the grand canyon. it is to grant. -- i cannot get my arms around it. i have looked at it every which way, including flying a small airplane, which i will never do again. >> if you go out to the grand canyon, you will see the aps system that powers the service
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center. >> have you done any white water down through the karl rove river? >> i have not. >> i have done a fair amount. my friends who are more passionate about it say the colorado river is the greatest. they talk about three weeks. i couldn't do three weeks. >> talk to me. i will set you up. they range from 3 or four days to three weeks. >> it is a great sport. you can't -- you do not have to be an athlete. you can be a spectator and participate. this is from someone who nearly drowned. a very strong young man pulled me out. i'm grateful to him, and i do
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not even know his name. you say these technologies have a season, when people love them for four or five years. one of the phrases we hear all over washington are two words -- "smart grid." what will it do for us? >> i think it has great promise. it will come 10 to 20 years down the road. the part the customers do not see that we are deploying in some project called a self- healing grid, which is a fancy term for the grid operating by itself, healing itself, and rerouting power. where the consumer will see the benefit down the road is the next cycle of appliances as they turned over and be able to
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integrate with the power system. the costar -- the customer will effortlessly control their power consumption. >> for the benefit of our listeners, you are listening to "white house chronicle" with myself, llewellyn king, and donald brandt, the ceo of arizona public service and his holding company pinnacle west. you can watch this program on the internet at, and even read some of my articles there. one of the criticisms of the smart british is that there will be a spy in the house, and all sorts of the information will go to the grid, like, what time you
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take your shower, etc. >> i hope not. [laughter] >> the people i talk to have been enormously enthusiastic because it will save a lot of power, because it will ration it, that kind of thing to even out the demand, but the critics worry about the amount of information we are giving out. how do you feel about that? >> there is some legitimate concern. the way we address that is to communicate with customers exactly what it does, and tell them what the benefit is. what is in it for the customer? they can make the trade-offs. >> what is the option once you -- once the entire system is smart grid, how can you not be on the smart grid?
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>> the customer will still have options as to what level to participate in, and we will offer the right economic incentives to make it attractive. >> many years ago, during the time of richard nixon's presidency, i worked on a study for the president that was done by the then chairwoman of the atomic energy commission. it was a quick and dirty study, but it was pretty accurate. my friend, who died, did the hard work and heavy lifting, i am afraid. all we could see in the future was more electrification, including railroads, more use of coal, natural glad -- natural gas was considered depleted, and oil was a huge problem. we were using the allow less
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imported oil then. -- we were using all lot less imported oil then. the electric cars looked into the electrical vacation -- the electrification did not happen, but it is coming. >> i think so, with automobiles, appliances, and smart homes -- the home of the future. >> advocates say electric vehicles will be charged in the middle of the night when there is no demand. i cannot see americans coming home and waiting while they are sleeping. all utilities tend to have their priciest time around 5:00 at night, when everyone gets home to turn on the television, fire up the computer, or shower,
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perhaps. if it plug in the car, it will get worse, will it not? >> in arizona, our prices and demand at the peak -- >> we are not in arizona. i want to know what is going to happen in washington, d.c.. we have no wind. it is coming in from canada just to meet the current demand. if people start plugging in a huge number of electric vehicles, we will be in huge trouble. >> the key will be how the power is priced, and how easy it is for the customer to take advantage of what is called time-of-day pricing. if you plug it in, and it is set to delayed to charge your
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vehicle after 9:00 at night, so once you get up in the morning, it is ready to go. >> there are people who turn on the air conditioning and light a fire. i have seen this. >> yes. >> people will circumvent time- of-day pricing, if they could afford it. the differential would have to be substantial, like 56 -- 50% or more, and that would not help the poor devil who does shift work and is legitimately up in the middle of the night. >> that is correct. >> if it sounds easier, because you assume everyone is asleep. we are on 24 hour a clocks, and we are not asleep. >> you will also see charging stations around in parking lots, convenience stores and that.
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>> we are going to have to boost the voltage, are we not? anders in the old fashion model that has been -- i understand the old fashion model that is been around since the second world war would take up to 20 hours to charge the car. >> advances in battery technology, and even right now there are several different modes of charging -- to have a 220 volt charger installed, substantially differentiates. >> how expensive is that? >> as i understand it right now, to have that installed, it would be somewhere around $1,500, to two thousand dollars. >> what do you figure the
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operating costs on electric cars will be? >> it varies quite a bit by the size, design, and battery capacity. >> mostly, you think it will be cheaper, once you pay the capital cost of the car? >> right. >> what do you do, sir, when you are not working? you live in that gorgeous part of america. what are your hobbies and interests? >> i have a few. i am not a golfer. i'm one of the few people in arizona that is not a golfer. it is very diverse. >> let's run through some of the things that keep you going. >> all right. >> you have an off-road vehicle. there it is. there you are. my goodness, that thing needs watering. [laughter] >> that was a muggy day.
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>> you are also pay pilot. you are a fisherman. there you are. that poor fish, was he good? >> he was. >> there you are in an f-16. >> i did a little bit of flying. i wrapped up a two-year term had -- as an honor a commissioner at the luke air force base. >> you are one of the only ceo's the rides a motorcycle. what is the term? -- the charm? >> to get out, fresh air. >> do you belong to a gang? are you packing heat? do you sell strange substances? >> no. that was actually taken at the nuclear plant.
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about five years ago, we finished a refueling outage, and as part of the celebration, the employees organized a parade. they have floats and vehicles. they invited me to join the bike riders. >> what kind of bike do you ride? >> i have a harley, and the italian version. >> what is your connection to steve nash , and pro basketball? >> he is a good friend, and a spokesperson for arizona public service. >> there you are, chatting with him. i saw some advertising. you do these comic figures. >> the renewables. >> there are great fun. there are just a little big. what is the story there?
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>> it is our way to communicate to our customers to bring to the concepts of renewable energy and energy efficiency in a bun away. in the utility -- in a fun way. sometimes, we talked in to many acronyms and meadow lots, things that do not mean anything to anyone, but to communicate the idea of renewable energy in a fun way -- these are huge draws at different public events, fares, and parades. >> you bring them, and blow them up? >> we blow them up. >> i wish you could have brought one. >> they are 15 feet tall. >> we would need a bigger studios.
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i could not use that to get in the high occupancy vehicle. >> that was the day's steve -- that was the day steve and i were announcing the project to put a solar energy system into the u.s. airways center. >> you currently have a rather rich life in arizona. how is the water supply in arizona, that has always been a tough issue? >> it is. >> how do you cool the nuclear plant? >> it is the only plant in the world that is not on a body of water. we actually use from this -- from phoenix water out of sit -- sewage. >> i take it is our pressurized water reactors? >> yes.
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>> you take the heat, and transferred it from being radioactive, to the non- radioactive, with a heating exchange. >> actually, the effluent is treated at the facility, and we used it at the entire system. >> do you mind if i have bottled water when i visit? >> it is cleaner than the bottled water. nuclear itself is a very clean, non-emitting technology. >> do you consider it renewable? >> yes, i do. what would you like to see the united states government do about electricity? we have had discussions about cap and trade. some like it, some do not. some do reluctantly. it is not coming this time around. where do you think the
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government is helping or hindering the electric utility industry today? >> i think what the government needs to do is set a clear, consistent energy policy. the country has never had an energy policy. it has changed constantly, from year to year, sometimes within years. it makes it very difficult for us in the industry to plan long term. the issue of carbon is uncertain. will there be a price? the same thing for the nuclear technologies. will the government support nuclear going forward as an option? it is a very uncertain time, and the rest of the world seems to get it. >> china is building 24 reactors, and talking about 84. >> correct. >> i think a terrible day will come to us when we've seen the
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chinese not only running a nuclear economy, but other things we have abandoned that has nothing to do with energy, but this sort of link in away. when we see chinese walking on the moon, we will feel terrible as people, and wonder where we went wrong, where we lost our leadership. when we see the lights on in them -- on in china, and off in america, we will feel terrible error >> do you have plans to build a new -- terrible. do you have plans to build a new nuclear plant? >> we are considering it. we really do not need baseline capacity until the year 2020. there are other companies that are proceeding. we would like to see how those projects go ahead of us, and how well they do. >> given that generally the most expensive electricity as around
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near city, and the cheapest is around seattle, -- around new york city, and the cheapest is around seattle, where does yours fit in? >> the middle. >> are you popular in the community? >> i think we are very popular. we are very much a part of the fabric of arizona in every aspect, but relative to just customer satisfaction, we came in as the no. 3 utility in the west in a survey, and about the fifth in the nation. i think that is pretty good. >> it sounds as though arizona is in a show the world how to do this thing. we did not talk about natural gas. you paint a very interesting
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picture of this vital commodity. i'm glad you can bet. >> thank you. >> that is our program today. visit us, and leave us a message. due to me in next week, and we will be back with more of "white house chronicle." until then, all of the best, cheers, and keep the lights on. bye-bye. >> "white house chronicle" is produced in collaboration with whut, howard university television. from washington, d.c., this has been "white house chronicle," a weekly analysis of the news with a sense of humor featuring llewellyn king, linda gasparello, and guests. this program can be seen on pbs stations and cable access channels.
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